The Yellow Mule in Their Eyes Were Watching God

Discussion
Apr 28, 2011
by: CFlores
I am reading the book Their Eyes Were Watching God and I like it. This book is particularly preoccupied with symbolism. This is still and interesting issue in our society because students learn about it in U.S. History and will never forget what happened during this time period. The mule in the book has a special “meaning” because of its nature and what the animal is. A mule is typically a hard worker and sometimes exploited for its ability to carry things. To me, the mule represents a slave during the times of slavery in the United States. On page 76 there is one of these passages Janie talks about Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves and that is exactly what Jody did by buying the mule from its owner.

“Something like George Washington and Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln, he had the whole United States tuh rule so he freed de Negroes. You got uh town so you freed uh mule. You have tuh have power tuh free things and dat makes you lak a king uh something.”

What Hurston gives us her is explaining how important power is in a situation like the one in the story. African Americans were powerless during that time, so it is safe to say that they did not have much rights to free themselves from society’s views. However, if someone like Jody who had power was willing to turn things around, then it was a different story. There was another quote that stood out for me. It was: “When the news got around, it was like the end of a war or something like that.” To me, this meant that the slave who finally got his freedom, was bound to die and the news seemed very agitating. Symbolically, the freedom of slavery through blood, sweat, and tears brought great news when the Civil War ended.

A scene from pages 82-88 really made me think of my community. The scene takes place in the porch where everyone is talking and having fun. A sense of togetherness makes the people laugh and interested in what others have to say. However, this does not occur in my community. In my community, it is possible that some folks know each other and talk as neighbors. Usually, everyone just mind their business and does not care about anything other than their self.

I really think that Joe and Janie’s relationship has declined; therefore, Janie will not care about Joe anymore. Janie might run away from all of her pain and probably move to somewhere that will bring her happiness, joy, and let her get to know herself better.